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SPORTS
July 3, 2014 | BY FRANK SERAVALLI, Daily News Staff Writer seravaf@phillynews.com
FOR DAYS, or even weeks, the Nashville Predators have been linked to Vinny Lecavalier in trade rumors. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall gave permission to Lecavalier's agent, Kent Hughes, to orchestrate his client's departure from Philadelphia. Nashville, hungry for offense, seemed like the perfect landing spot. Lecavalier, 34, was wooed to the Flyers by Peter Laviolette last summer. He is now at the helm in Nashville. The Predators are thin down the middle in an unmerciful Western Conference.
SPORTS
July 2, 2014 | By Sam Carchidi, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Flyers made qualifying offers Monday to four restricted free agents: forwards Jason Akeson and Tye McGinn, and defensemen Brandon Manning and Erik Gustafsson. The Flyers retained the right to match another team's offers to any of the players. Gustafsson has opted to sign with the KHL in Russia, but the Flyers retain his rights if he returns to the NHL. The Flyers did not make a qualifying offer to goalie Cal Heeter, 25, who will become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.
SPORTS
July 2, 2014 | By Sam Carchidi, Inquirer Staff Writer
With the free-agency period starting Tuesday, new Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will not be able to make a big splash unless he unloads some salary. Hextall is caught between a rock and a hard cap. As a result, do not expect the Flyers to be big players in free agency. For the time being, the Flyers are about $236,000 over the salary-cap maximum of $69 million - and they still need to sign another defenseman or forward, and a backup goalie. So unless they are able to deal Vinny Lecavalier - who is expected to land elsewhere after he picks up a $2 million bonus on Tuesday - or another high-priced veteran such as Braydon Coburn, the Flyers have no cap flexibility.
SPORTS
July 2, 2014 | By FRANK SERAVALLI, Daily News Staff Writer seravaf@phillynews.com
TRY AS HE might, Ron Hextall could not rid the Flyers of any of the numerous onerous contracts bogging down their salary cap. Hextall could not find a taker for center Vinny Lecavalier, despite the fact he gave agent Kent Hughes more than 2 weeks to work out a landing spot. He will be paid a $2 million signing bonus today, which hampered negotiations. Hextall did not budge in buying out winger R.J. Umberger, despite the fact he is the Flyers' second-highest paid forward after Claude Giroux.
SPORTS
July 1, 2014 | BY FRANK SERAVALLI, Daily News Staff Writer seravaf@phillynews.com
DESPITE A TOTAL regime change from Paul Holmgren to Ron Hextall, the NHL draft operated about the same as it has in past years for the Flyers. That's because director of scouting Chris Pryor remained at the helm. Perhaps the only difference was the major emphasis the Flyers put internally on making their picks in rounds 2-7 count. The NHL draft, unlike some other sports, is usually such a hit-or-miss event that teams are statistically doing well if any player picked after the second round actually skates a game in the NHL. Other organizations, like Detroit, for instance, seem to hit more than they miss.
SPORTS
July 1, 2014 | BY FRANK SERAVALLI, Daily News Staff Writer seravaf@phillynews.com Here is a peek inside the Flyers' 2014 draft: TRAVIS SANHEIM First round (17th overall) Position: Defense Height: 6-3 Weight: 181 Born: March 29, 1996 (18 years old) Birthplace: Elkhorn, Manitoba Team: Calgary (WHL) Stats: 2013-14: 67 GP, 5 G, 24 A, 29 pts, 14 PIM, plus-25. Notes: One calendar year ago, Sanheim wrapped up his season in Manitoba midget hockey, praying for a shot to make the Calgary Hitmen roster ... Finished ranked 53rd among North American-born skaters according to NHL Central Scouting ... Interviewed with all 30 NHL teams ... Ranked eighth overall by TSN analyst Craig Button, the Mel Kiper of NHL drafts ... Hometown of Elkhorn, Manitoba has a population of 461 ... Says he models his game after St.Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester ... Has a twin brother, Taylor, who plays junior hockey in Manitoba. Taylor Sanheim never sprouted past 5-10 ... Went from being a healthy scratch at the beginning of Calgary's season to Canada's top defenseman at the Under-18 World Championships in Finland. Sanheim says: "It's kind of crazy, the last year. I was playing midget hockey and not even thinking about the draft. I was just trying to crack the Calgary roster. Then I started to get my confidence. I started to see my name in the rankings and I felt good about myself, I knew I was doing stuff right." Ron Hextall says: "We feel we got the best player with the most upside. His path is one that is very intriguing. Player development coach Kjell Samuelsson might as well get a place in Calgary this year." Mike Moore says: "The Flyers are getting a guy who is taking off. He's very intelligent. He has terrific vision. He's very good in his own end. He finished high school by Christmas last season so he could focus on hockey - and you could see what that did for his second half of the year." - Moore is the Calgary Hitmen general manager. NICOLAS AUBE-KUBEL Second round (48th overall) Position: Right wing Height: 5-11 Weight: 190 Born: May 10, 1996 (18 years old) Birthplace: Sorel, Quebec Team: Val d'Or (QMJHL) Stats: 2012-13: 64 GP, 10 G, 17 A, 27 pts, 26 PIM, minus-4 2013-14: 65 GP 22 G, 31 A, 53 pts, 61 PIM, minus-1 Notes: Picked up 13 points in 24 playoff games, as Val d'Or represented the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in this year's Memorial Cup ... His agent is Phil Lecavalier, the brother of Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier ... Said he had not spoken yet to Vinny Lecavalier about the Flyers ... Hails from Sorel, a suburb of Montreal ... His favorite movie is "Step Brothers" ... Says he patterns his game a little after Ottawa's Kyle Turris with his skating ability and size ... Plays primarily wing, but says he can also play center. Has played wing exclusively the last 4 years ... Finished ranked 40th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting after being ranked 45th at midpoint of the season. Aube-Kubel says: "When I put the jersey on, it was very special. To hear the screams in the stands, it was amazing. I know they draft some Quebec guys often. I know Philadelphia fans are loud. It was awesome just to hear them screaming for the Flyers when they made their pick. I have a good hockey sense, defensively, and my skating ability is really good. This year, I'll work hard at being better defensively and my consistency." Scout says: "He reminds me a little of Jason Pominville, only a little stronger at the same age. He's very involved and shoots the puck really well. He plays in all situations." - NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau. Chris Pryor says: "He's another guy that is probably a little bit under the radar because the big line there got a lot of the minutes. We're excited because I think next year we're going to see big things from him with the quality ice time that the big line got this year. He brings speed. He's a good hockey player. He plays both sides of the ice and he's competitive." - Flyers' director of scouting. MARK FRIEDMAN Third round (86th overall) Position: Defense Height: 5-11 Weight: 185 Born: Dec. 25, 1995 (18 years old) Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario Team: Waterloo (USHL) Stats: 2012-13: 64 GP, 8 G, 27 A, 35 pts, 44 PIM, plus-22 2013-14: 51 GP, 10 G, 30 A, 40 pts, 30 PIM, plus-22 Notes: Flyers scout Nick Pryor, who covers primarily the USHL, had a big impact on the Flyers targeting Friedman, who will attend Bowling Green State University in the fall ... Was originally supposed to enroll at Bowling Green before the 2013-14 season, but ended up back in Waterloo after a mix-up in class registration with the NCAA clearinghouse ... Ranked 124th among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings after coming in at 133rd on the midpoint list. Friedman says: "I'm a two-way defenseman. I can skate the puck, but I really rely on my defense more than my offense. I compare my game kind of to Johnny Oduya of the Chicago Blackhawks. I had a screw-up in my courses and I saw Waterloo had a few guys drafted, so I wanted to come back. I think it absolutely helped me. I didn't think I was mature enough as a person and a player and the extra year helped me out. To be drafted in Philly, by the Flyers, it's a dream come true." Pryor says: "He's a competitive, skilled defenseman. He's got some skill, he can run the power play, he's mobile and he competes. He's going to a good situation in Bowling Green where he will get a lot of ice time. He committed early and stuck with his commitment in Bowling Green." OSKAR LINDBLOM Fifth round (138th overall) Position: Winger Height: 6-1 Weight: 192 Born: Aug. 15, 1996 (17 years old) Birthplace: Gavle, Sweden Team: Brynas (Swedish Hockey League) Stats: 2013-14: (Swedish Elite League) 4 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 pts, 0 PIM, minus-2 2013-14: (Swedish Under 20) 43 GP, 13 G, 20 A, 33 pts, 28 PIM, plus-2 2014 Under 18 World Champs: 7 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 pts, 2 PIM, plus-5 Notes: After skating in four games with Brynas in the Swedish Elite League last season as a 17-year-old, Lindblom has already signed to play with the big club next season ... He was impressive in seven games at the Under-18 World Championships for Sweden, registering six points in seven games ... His father, Johan Lindblom, played professionally in Sweden ... Oskar Lindblom outscored his older brother, Marcus, on the same Brynas junior team last season ... Finished ranked 23rd among European skaters according to NHL Central Scouting. Gunderson says: "I would say he is a good pick for a late round. He has decent size. He can still fill out more. He seemed smart with the puck. He could be really good when he develops physically." - Ryan Gunderson, Philadelphia native, who was the leading scorer for Brynas in the Swedish Elite League last season and played four games with Lindblom. Gunderson has signed to play for Jokerit in Finland next season when they move to Russia's KHL. Scout says: "Lindblom is a powerful skater with a strong, two-way game. He isn't shy to do the dirty work and is a pain to move out in front from the net. He gets himself open to create offensive chances but isn't overly flashy." - FutureConsiderations.ca Pryor says: "If you would have looked at our projections late last summer, he could have been a late first or early second round pick. For whatever reason, it happens, he slipped a little this year. We were on him from Day 1. He's a big body. From the blue line in, he's really good. He could have easily been an early second pick. We didn't think he would be there when we picked him." RADEL FAZLEEV Sixth round (168th overall) Position: Left wing Height: 6-0 Weight: 178 Born: Jan. 7, 1996 (18 years ago) Birthplace: Kazan, Russia Team: Calgary (WHL) Stats: 2013-14: 38 GP, 5 G, 20 A, 25 pts, 12 PIM, plus-1 Notes: Suffered a broken wrist in Calgary in January that kept him out of the lineup until the start of the WHL playoffs ... Actually finished ahead of Flyers' third-round pick, Mark Friedman, in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings. He ranked 121st among North American skaters, Friedman ... This was Fazleev's first season in North America. He skated in Kazan in the Russian junior league prior to joining Calgary ... Represented Russia in the 2013 Under 18 Ivan Hlinka tournament. Pryor says: "One thing about Radel, he plays a North American game. I don't want to say that's atypical of a Russian style of game, but this guy plays both ends, a hard-working game. He got hurt this year so he was a little under the radar, but if you look at his playoff numbers, he had really good numbers. They're both on the upward trend. Right now, he's got a really good chance of making that Russian Under-20 world junior team next year." JESPER PETTERSSON Seventh round (198th overall) Position: Defense Height: 5-8 Weight: 187 Born: July 16, 1994 (19 years old) Birthplace: Stockholm, Sweden Team: Linkoping (Swedish Hockey League) Stats: 2013-14: 48 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 pt, 30 PIM, minus-8 Notes: Lacking in size at just 5-8 ... Listed as a good two-way defenseman who likes to join the rush but doesn't have a hefty shot ... Helped Sweden capture a gold medal at the Under-18 World Championships. Pryor says: "He's a little bit of an older guy, he's been through the draft a couple times. We've seen a lot in the last couple years, scouting at tournaments. He's not an overly flashy guy, he just plays the game the right way. He's not big, but he's really thick. He's competitive. He's got a good stick, a good head for the game. He's a big leader with the Swedes. I don't know if you remember Freddy Meyer, but there are a lot of similarities. He's not real big but he's good on his feet and he's competitive."
Here is a peek inside the Flyers' 2014 draft: TRAVIS SANHEIM First round (17th overall) Position: Defense Height: 6-3 Weight: 181 Born: March 29, 1996 (18 years old) Birthplace: Elkhorn, Manitoba Team: Calgary (WHL) Stats: 2013-14: 67 GP, 5 G, 24 A, 29 pts, 14 PIM, plus-25. Notes: One calendar year ago, Sanheim wrapped up his season in Manitoba midget hockey, praying for a shot to make the Calgary Hitmen roster ... Finished ranked 53rd among North American-born skaters according to NHL Central Scouting ... Interviewed with all 30 NHL teams ... Ranked eighth overall by TSN analyst Craig Button, the Mel Kiper of NHL drafts ... Hometown of Elkhorn, Manitoba has a population of 461 ... Says he models his game after St.Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester ... Has a twin brother, Taylor, who plays junior hockey in Manitoba.
SPORTS
July 1, 2014 | By Frank Seravalli, Daily News Staff Writer
THE NAME of "Mr. Irrelevant," otherwise known as the 210th pick, had not been registered by the Stanley Cup champion Kings even 10 minutes Saturday and Ron Hextall was ready to put his first-ever draft in the rearview mirror. The Flyers have work to do. "First on my agenda right now is to go back to Skate Zone and take a look at our [salary] cap," Hextall said. "We have the hard number now, so we've got to look at it and see where we can try to maneuver. " The Flyers need to do some serious maneuvering just to fill out their roster for the upcoming season, let alone entertain pricey free agents when the signing window opens tomorrow at noon.
SPORTS
June 30, 2014 | By Marc Narducci, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Flyers continued to build their young defense, putting an emphasis on the position for the third draft in a row. By the time the two-day NHL draft at the Wells Fargo Center ended Saturday, the Flyers had selected three defensemen and three forwards. "It was a nice balance," general manager Ron Hextall said. Hextall, the former Flyers goalie, had one gripe. "I am a little disappointed we didn't get a goalie, but they just didn't fall where we hoped they would," he said.
SPORTS
June 29, 2014 | BY FRANK SERAVALLI, Daily News Staff Writer seravaf@phillynews.com
IT WAS LATE last October when Mike Moore realized he might have a special project lurking on his blue line in lanky defenseman Travis Sanheim. That's when Moore, general manager of the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen, said something clicked in Sanheim. A still unknown commodity, Sanheim had sat as a healthy scratch in four different games that month. "He decided that he was sick of it, he'd had enough time watching," Moore told the Daily News. "He was really hit or miss the first few months of the season.
SPORTS
June 29, 2014 | By Marc Narducci, Inquirer Staff Writer
For the second year in a row, the Flyers have selected a defenseman with their first pick in the NHL draft. With the draft at the Wells Fargo Center for the first time, new general manager Ron Hextall made 18-year-old defenseman Travis Sanheim the 17th overall pick Friday night. The draft will conclude Saturday with Rounds 2-7. Last year, the Flyers chose blueliner Sam Morin with the 11th pick of the first round. Sanheim was considered a late riser. Playing for Calgary of the Western Hockey League, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound defenseman had five goals and 24 assists in 67 games and a plus-25 rating.
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